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Football: Basel on top as Lugano slip up

Grasshoppers' Smiljanic (left) and Basel's Muff tussle in the rain Keystone

The fourth round of the Swiss football championships saw a goal famine following last week's feast. Just five goals were scored in six matches, with Basel, Lausanne and Sion all winning their games with single strikes.

This content was published on July 30, 2000 - 11:32

Basel's 1-0 win over Grasshoppers saw Christian Gross's team climb to the top of the league, but the game was far from pretty. Miserable weather conditions certainly played a part in hampering both sides, with an own goal by Grasshoppers' Reto Zanni ultimately deciding the match.

The traditional rivalry between the sides saw the mood on the pitch turn as ugly as the skies overhead. In the closing stages, Grasshoppers were reduced to nine men, following the dismissals of their defender, Roland Schwegler, and goalkeeper, Stefan Huber. Basel were also awarded a penalty, but Massimo Ceccaroni's shot was saved by Grasshoppers' replacement keeper, Peter Jehle.

Basel's ascendancy came at the expense of the former leaders, Lugano. After making a perfect start to the season with three wins from three matches, Roberto Morinini's side finally came undone in Lausanne.

With both teams taking a similar tactical approach the game was a stifled affair. The breakthrough came with just 14 minutes left to play, Olivier Baudry's well-timed cross converted by Marcin Kuzba to breach the Lugano goal for the first time this season.

The result ensured a tight race at the top of the table with Basel, Lausanne, Lugano and Sion all level on points. Sion, like Lugano, have made a surprisingly good start to the new season and it has certainly paid off in terms of public support.

Saturday's 1-0 win over the 1999 champions, Servette, was watched by nearly 10,000 supporters who are now hoping that their team can return to its former glories. Servette, with just one win from their first four games, could be facing a much tougher season. After going behind in the 25th minute to a goal scored by Sion's Brazilian striker, Enilton, Servette failed to mount any serious challenge to the home side.

The Lake Geneva derby between Neuchatel Xamax and Yverdon also appeared to have been settled by a Brazilian, after Yverdon's young striker, Gil, put the visitors ahead ten minutes from full-time. But in the final minute, Xamax struck back, Marco Tschopp's header finding the Yverdon net via a fortunate deflection.

The defending Swiss champions, St Gallen, were also held to a draw in their match away to FC Zurich. Despite failing to win a game so far this season, it was the home side who looked the most dangerous, but a solid performance by St Gallen's goalkeeper and captain, Jörg Stiel, kept the game scoreless.

Lucerne and Aarau also failed to muster a single goal in their match, although for Aarau the 0-0 draw at least brought them their first point of the season. Rolf Fringer's side could have come away with all three points but Patrick De Napoli, Levant Khomeriki and André Wiederkehr all missed good chances to score.

Saturday's results:

Basel 1-0 Grasshoppers Zurich
Lausanne 1-0 Lugano
Lucerne 0-0 Aarau
Neuchatel Xamax 1-1 Yverdon
Sion 1-0 Servette
FC Zurich 0-0 St Gallen

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